Once, before I learned

politically correct points of view,
I wrote a story as if I was a girl
who grew up in Gaza.
Her (my) name was Laila (Anna).
She (I) had five (three) siblings.
She (I) wanted to be a mechanic (teacher).
Inside of the refugee camp (suburbs)
where she (I) grew,
a flower in concrete (peas in a pot),
transplanted (rooted),
she (I) dreamed of mosques (libraries)
and graffiti on border walls.
(I had no need to protest.)
This story, I had no right to tell,
but it was my protest regardless.
—right to return right to return right to return—
Tragedy, I thought then,
to be forced from home,
to grow up in spite of
deprivation, occupation, grief.
At least my Laila got to grow up.
The bombs are still falling in Gaza,
and all I can think is to hand the world
a pen and beg. Please, try my misguided
exercise in empathy. Go on.
Fill in the details.
How many siblings do you have?
What plant metaphor describes you best?
What, can’t you hear me over the ringing?
There’s bodies in the street. There’s no more water.
She loved to draw.
Is this still acceptable damage to you?